A quiet place
Thinking can be a lonely task. It often requires finding a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of life. A protected place, shrouded with calm, that allows small thoughts to make their way to the forefront despite competition from large looming worries and the scuttle of busy agendas. Even small decisions are hard to make if chaos is running high around us. Getting alone with our thoughts is perhaps one of the benefits from the stay-at-home restrictions COVID is putting upon us. But how do we make good of time spent simply thinking?
I wonder if we have taken advantage of this pandemic downtime. I believe that if we play our mental cards right, the restrictions of the pandemic could even shape our minds into a Royal Flush, or at least a pair of Aces! I bet all of us could write down half a dozen things that we'd like answers to, whether it's should I switch employers? Have I upset my friend? How do I reconcile with my neighbor? How can I help my teenager through his issue? What will our finances look like in 6 months? Should I get that lump tested? How can I love him more? And I bet all of these could be processed some way towards resolution with just a small amount of time thinking. Thinking - just for the purpose of solving.
I grew up in a home where time 'well spent' was clearly defined and measurable: You had something to show for it. Money earned for example, or a thing, anything, such as a new box chiseled out of left over wood, or a baked cake, a cleaned room, or a flower planted. Time spent thinking was less valued in our hard-working family. In fact, it was often scorned as time squandered. So it would have to be tagged onto something more tangible like cleaning or taking a walk - moving body parts is 'doing' so that counted! Now I believe thinking has earned its right to its own armchair for its own quiet purpose - resolution.
Thinking is not lazy. On the contrary - to not think is lazy. Not thinking through the consequences of our actions, or words, is lazy (and maybe even selfish); not taking time to understand our teenagers is lazy (and maybe even reckless); not taking time to think through our finances for the next several months is lazy (and maybe even foolish); not taking time to reflect if we have hurt a friend is lazy (and maybe even arrogant). Thinking is not lazy. Not thinking is lazy. Thinking is wise. Not thinking is foolish.
Our worlds are growing more and more complex by the day. In 2021, we now have a world where right and wrong are often opposite to what we have learned, and/or opposite to what God's word says. We have a world where even the simplest things that we knew growing up (e.g. boy / girl) are now multidimensional, psycho-social riddles; and systems that were designed for simplicity (e.g. the populous votes to elect their leaders) is now fraught with racial and political divides, hidden agendas, and speculative conspiracy. Even sending the kids to school, perhaps the epitome of basic family functioning, is now a multifaceted gamble!
Our world is complex. Thankfully, so are we. We were created with such a profound depth of mental, emotional, and physical potential, that we can of course handle all of the complexities of the day. But only if we meet these complexities with an adequately thoughtful response. How different would the events of the past year in the USA look if people would have just taken time to think through to the end of their actions before they acted? How many arguments could have been avoided if we just thought to the end conclusion before we started talking? How many marriages could have been saved if one just thought more dearly about the other? How many children would not be hurting if adults thought like responsible loving adults rather than selfish machines?
Which issues today, either in your home or nationally, would look different if thinking happened? Given the restrictions the pandemic has imposed, and resultant time at home, we now have more time for thinking than we've ever had before. We have no excuse for not thinking. 2021 begins as 2020 ended - restrictions for the movement of our bodies, but we have, and I pray always will, have free movement of our minds. We are without excuse for thoughtless actions, selfish behavior, and unloving hearts. I pray that 2021 will bring reconciliation, healing, prosperity, and peace spurred by our careful thinking and enabled by God's graceful provision.
If any of you lacks wisdom,
you should ask God,
who gives generously to all
without finding fault,
and it will be given to you.
When was the last time you had more than one hour of quiet?
What prohibits you from time in deep thought? Noise? Other priorities? Dislike of quiet? How can you overcome these?
What are the top 2 concerns that fill your mind these days? Have you spent time quietly considering the causes of these issues and what some possible solutions might be? If not, try working through this making notes with pen and paper. Pray (and do) James 1:5 above before you start. What does resolution look like for each of these? Does that include peace? What are the first 3 steps towards resolution? Can you do these yourself or do you need help? From whom? Are you willing to ask?
During the next couple of weeks, in conversation when someone shares a point of view with you, ask 'Why do you think that?' Consider their response. Is it well thought out, or is it based more on whim or social ideal? Consider your own thoughts on the issue and ask yourself the same question!